Published by Self published on Jun 11, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, YA
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.
It makes you a One.
Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.
If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.
Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.
Merrin’s mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub’s internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it’s more important to fly solo, or to save everything – and everyone – she loves.
I was really excited to pick up One by Leigh Ann Kopans, despite the fact that I rarely read self-published books. To be honest, I have such a big stack of books at home to read already, I feel like I’m not seeking out as many books as I used to. But having heard great things about this one (no pun intended!) on Twitter, and having really enjoyed the opening when Kopans posted it on her blog, I definitely wanted to make time for this story.
One is the story of Merrin Grey, a teenage girl in a world where there are Supers (people with two powers) and Normals (people with none) and then there are the rejects, people like her, with only one, useless, power. Merrin can float but she can’t fly, until she meets Elias, and the two of them combine powers and it sends them flying for the first time. But as happy as Merrin is with Elias, she still wants to be able to fly on her own. Not only that, but the more she learns about Ones and the scientific research going on at the local hub, the more she realizes she may have to choose between the ability she always wanted, and the people she loves.
The premise of One is really cool, and although I haven’t read much superhero stuff, it seems like a really unique concept. There are also lots of subtle nods to other superhero franchises, though somebody more familiar would probably be better at picking up on them– but just look at Merrin’s last name, Grey.
When I first started reading I really enjoyed One, but unfortunately, after Merrin meets Elias there is a bunch of world-building/history that felt heavy and dragged a lot, like just having the teacher explain what had happened in the world to result in Supers, instead of having it come out more naturally. I thought the world-building was incredibly cool, and really loved it, but the way it was integrated was clunky at times which meant that when I put it down One I didn’t find myself super-drawn to it and picking back up again immediately. For that reason, it actually took me almost two months to read One. Later on in the book, things definitely picked up though.
Personally, there were a few aspects that could have been tweaked, though I was reading an ARC so it’s possible they have been. In one example, Merrin waits until right before a big dinner to find a dress, when it’s probably something she would have thought of before considering how excited about it she was––even if she’s not really into dresses. When she puts on the dress it’s a sort of magical moment that is a little too cheesy and predictable for a book with an otherwise unique and strong plot.
It also seems like Merrin never has time to explain what’s going on, when really she just doesn’t want to talk about it or tell the truth. Maybe it’s because the book is first person so the reader is experiencing Merrin’s denial, I just got annoyed at her for saying she was in a rush when it wouldn’t have taken that long to explain, or saying she’s saving it for later when really the person deserved to know the truth right away. I also thought some of the science in the story could have been a bit clearer.
Those moments aside, there is some real sincerity between Elias and Merrin with some beautiful scenes featuring the Nebraskan landscape as well as flying, which is incredibly well-described. I really enjoyed the setting of the story and thought the dialogue felt natural and realistic. The relationships in One felt authentic, and I loved that Merrin was strong but not flawless.
Merrin was an amazing main character, and I loved that she was complicated and tortured and powerful and real. She is definitely the heart of One, and she holds the book together. I also really enjoyed many of the other characters in the book, including the robotic system, Rosie, that runs Elias’ house. She was pretty cool!
Even though One was a slow read for me, there were a lot of great moments and unique aspects to the story that made me continue reading it and glad that I did. There is a big bang of action at the end which is quite exciting and leaves me interested for where things go next in the sequel Two, which will be released in October and which I am likely to pick up to find out how things turn out for Merrin. If you’re looking for a character-driven superhero story with unique world-building and a slightly epic romance, I definitely recommend looking into One by Leigh Ann Kopans.